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Posted on: October 8, 2020

Tree Farm Subdivision Grading Activity Continues: Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions

Tree Farm Map

As clearing and grading of the new Tree Farm Subdivision continues at Maloney Grove Ave, the City of North Bend is providing some additional information regarding the site work - including grading activity - that is expected to occur during the coming weeks. 

We hope answers to these FAQs are helpful. Residents with additional questions can contact Danna McCall at dmccall@northbendwa.gov.

Why are there so many trucks accessing the Tree Farm Site?  These trucks are importing dirt to raise the elevation of the site. 

Why does the City allow a property owner to import dirt - often called "fill" - into the site?   

The City of North Bend respects private property rights.  Additionally, there is no North Bend City Code - or in other local cities - that prevents a property owner from importing fill onto their property.   

However, in order to import fill, the property owner (applicant) must obtain a Clearing and Grading Permit from the City of North Bend to import or excavate more than 50 cubic yards of material.  

Furthermore, an applicant is required to undergo the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) process prior to obtaining a Grading Permit. During SEPA, the public is notified of proposed activities that could negatively or positively impact the earth, air, water, plants, animals, natural resources, environmental health (such as noise), shoreline (if applicable), housing, aesthetics, light and glare, recreation and historic or cultural preservation, transportation and public services.  

Isn't fill expensive with all those trucks? 

Yes, importing fill is very expensive. The property owner and/or builder – not the city – pay(s) for the truck, truck labor, fill dirt, erosion control, etc. This expense is then typically wrapped into the cost of a new-construction home. 

Why would an applicant choose to raise the elevation of a site? 

In the case of the Tree Farm Subdivision, there are several reasons why the elevation is being raised:   

First, the existing sanitary sewer system in the area is shallow, which decreases the likelihood of "Inflow and Infiltration" due to a shallow groundwater table. The side sewer pipes from future Tree Farm homes need to have ‘gravity slope’ into the sewer main, otherwise a sewer pump would be required for each home.  A gravity sloping side sewer is significantly preferred over a home sewer pump as those can fail during power outages, causing a home's plumbing system to backup.    

Second, the applicant’s project design sought to infiltrate much of site's stormwater. Because the seasonal high groundwater table is fairly shallow in this area, the additional soil provides some separation between future homes and groundwater table, which allows the stormwater to soak in and slowly infiltrate over time.  [Note: The groundwater table in North Bend also fluctuates upward or downward each week.] 

What about the City's roads?  Won't the pavement be damaged? 

With enough heavy truck usage, the existing pavement can deflect and become damaged.  Because pavement overlays are very expensive, the City's Public Works Department was proactive, taking photos and measurements of the offsite pavement along Maloney Grove Road before Tree Farm Subdivision hauling began. If the pavement is noticeably damaged, then the applicant will be required to do offsite pavement overlay or pavement re-construction under the City's direction. 

What about public safety because of so many trucks? 

The Tree Farm Subdivision developer installed reduced speed limit signage and is required to provide a 6- foot wide gravel shoulder along Maloney Grove Ave for pedestrian passage. Additionally, traffic flaggers are present while trucks are hauling dirt and street sweeping is required to remove dirt, debris and rocks from the roadway.

City inspectors have also been reviewing contractor’s means and methods to ensure they comply with local codes and rules. The developer – not city taxpayers – incurs the cost of city employee inspection and review time, which is consistent with the City Council's mantra: ‘Growth Pays for Growth.’ 

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